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Haven Guitars – Electric Guitar – Starling

So over the last 3 months I’ve been slowly working away building my very first guitar. I mean – how hard can it be, right? After completing my mandolin (see How to Build a Mandolin) I figured a solid body electric guitar can’t be too hard. Of course, I started searching on Youtube for some guides before I got started, found the whole new post here. Fletcher Handcrafted Guitars was by far in the way the best series of tutorials out there. I then went about trying to source wood. I was surprised at how unhelpful millsgu, mouldings and finishers, and joineries were in helping to find some native New Zealand timbers, but only in small quantities. All up I think I needed about 2 metres of 120×25 Matai to build this, with some bits and pieces of Rimu added in to give it some flare. The rest of the parts were ordered in bits and pieces to help spread out the cost of the guitar, and along with some must-have tools, began to complete this project. I have learned heaps along the way, and am much more confident in trying to build more in the future. I have already begun my second guitar, which will be a Rimu Telecaster with a chambered body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound Check

Here is the first sound check of the guitar. The quality is a little rubbish due to only videoing with my iPhone, but it gives you an idea.    

How to Build Your Own Pedalboard

As a guitarist one of the things you eventually get into is effects pedals. For many years I used the programmable multi effects units and never needed a board. I upgraded to start building a collection of the good reliable and hard working Boss Pedals – also it’s a kind of the best wah pedal for the money. For a while I only ever used two, and so setting them up with a tuner never took long. However, I decided that it was time to make a more permanent setup. So here’s a bit of a guide as to how I did it.

1. Research

The first thing I did was have a look at all the different types of pedalboard out there. Holeyboard was one design I liked in terms of attaching pedals to the board. These designs I also liked in terms of their style and finish. I also saw the DIY boards made from IKEA Gorm shelves. So I decided to make something that was a mix of these.

2. Get all that you’ll need.

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Here’s the things I used:

  • lengths of wood – enough for 4 lengths of 600mm approx + extras
  • moulding – for edges
  • wood stain
  • wood glue
  • wood screws
  • polyurethane
  • cable ties
  • drill with drill bits and screwdriver heads
  • countersink drill bit
  • measuring tape / ruler
  • handsaw

3. Layout

The first thing to do with layout was to actually list down the pedals I wanted to put on the board. Then get them written down in order. Ordering your pedals has got some freedom to it, in that everyone’s preferences are different, and you should make your pedals in an order that you like and that you want. As a general guideline however, I found these pages helpful.

After that I drew them in the general layout with the general shape and layout I wanted for my board. I find by drawing it out, I had a better understanding of the spacings I’d need and an idea for the board itself.

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Get all your pedals laid out in the order you want. Then work out how long the pedalboard needs to be to fit all your pedals on. Don’t forget to include space for your patch cables to fit as well.

To help with this, there is this website – Pedalboard Planner, which has set sized pedal boards with the matching pedal size laid on top. Very cool tool.

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During this process I also took into account some pedal expansion, where I may wish to add on some more pedals at a later stage. On the top row, I can compact the three pedals and fit four along the top. Likewise the bottom row can be moved closer to each other, and allow room (hopefully) for a wah-wah pedal as well.

4. Make the cuts

 

Once you’ve measured up, it’s time to cut the wood. Make sure you’ve measured twice , so you only have to cut once! When hand-sawing, let the saw do the work, and keep 90 degrees to the wood so you have a cut straight.

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5. Spacing Check

It was about now that once I’d made all the cuts I’d better check that there was enough space for the pedals and a little riser for the back pedals as well.

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Better to be safe than sorry, and gave me an idea as to how spaced the wood lengths need to be.

5a. Riser

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Using the off cut from the riser, I found centre, then made a mark 10mm either side of it to create an even angle. This would allow the riser to tilt slightly forward when assembled. I made sure I checked the height of the risers (plus the top of it) to make sure that it cleared the height of the pedals in front. After all, the purpose for having the riser is so that you don’t accidentally knock the knobs on the front pedals of course.

 

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After playing around I decided to have these risers on the edges of the board, rather than ‘indented’ as per the photo above. Either option works, just comes down to personal preference.

6. Moulding

This is essentially an optional step as you could make a pedalboard without this; but I think you’ll agree it looks a lot better with it.

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Measure (twice; three times a charm) and cut this on 45 degree angles, so that they meet flush in the corners. The measurements should be taken from the inside of the 90 degree right angle of the wood. It’s difficult to then get the cuts right, but take your time and it will all come together. Double, triple check before you cut.

7. Bracing

Using some off cuts from an earlier project, I cut my back bracing runners to length and laid them on the back of my 4 lengths that would make up the board. These add strength to the board and keeps the spaces nice and even. It also takes the pressure off the mouldings to hold the boards You’ll notice that I have used some scrap pieces of wood that are all the same width to create spacer guides. This ensures that all the boards are evenly spaced and will stay that way as you do the work. Once in place, I drilled some pilot holes for the screws; one in the centre (approx) of each board. Do this for both runners.

 

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At this stage I also counter-sunk these drill holes, though this is optional. You do want the screws to be flush with the wood, and spending a little extra time with a counter sink was better than risking splitting the wood and having to start all over again.

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8. Glue (But not really…)

This is where I made my first mistake of getting too far ahead of myself. In the photos you can see that I glue and then attach the bracing to the boards using the woodscrews. However, once I’d done this, I realised that actually – it was going to be easier to stain all the wood BEFORE I constructed it. Just meant I wasn’t going to have to push and prod at the corners and gaps with a paintbrush.

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But keep this in mind – AFTER you stain it, and you’re ready to put it together, glue the wood before you use the screws. It will mean a stronger bond and will help it last longer, especially with all the stamping that you’ll put it through!

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9. Attach the moulding

Once you have glues on the bracing, it’s time to glue on the moulding to the edges. (Once again, stain the wood before you do this!)

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Make sure you line up the 45 degree cuts that you’ve made with the corners of your board. It will also be important to drill into the edge of the wooden boards. I found that to drill into the bottom of the moulding would mean my woodscrews would come out the top. So I put a woodscrew into the sides of the boards. I even got darker bronze coloured screws to make it look pimping.

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As part of the bracing support and the moulding for the horizontal mouldings, it will be necessary to make a couple of cuts in the wood to wrap around the runners.

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10. Base board done

So that should be it for the base board now. Here’s what mine looks like, with the top shown above, and the bottom shown below. (And now magically the staining I “did earlier” has finally come out in the photos!)

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And the bottom of the base with the bracing runners.

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11. Back row riser

You can now add the top of the riser to the sides supports ready to go onto the base board. Attach initially with wood glue, and then drill four pilot holes with countersinking. Tighten up the woodscrews and you’re ready to go!

 

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If you are going to polyurethane or varnish your board, now would be the time I suggest that you do it.

12. Place riser on the base board.

Figure out where you want to place the riser. Take into account the placement of your pedals at the outset and stay true to that. Changing plans now may stuff up the placement and spacing of your pedals.

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Place the riser on, and using sight and alignment, drill some pilot holes from the baseboard through to the riser. Add some glue, and then fasten the woodscrews from the bottom.

13. Cable tie holes

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From here, you could go about adding velcro tape to the board and your pedals and you’d be done. But I like the idea from holeyboard – not in the sense that I’m going to add lots of holes in a repeating pattern to serve most sized pedals, but in the sense that there’s nothing stopping me adding more holes later on if I need them. I placed each pedal in the place that I wanted them on the board, and then using a pencil, made a little mark where the cable ties would be coming from each side of the pedal. When I drilled the holes, I measured the hole that a cable tie (370mm) would fit through (snuggly at 4.8mm) and then drilled them slightly on the ‘inside’ of those pencil marks so that the holes are marginally covered by the pedal, but will still allow for the cable tie to fit through.

14. Insert cable ties

Now it’s time to attach your pedals. Slide in the cable ties from the bottom. The holes should be big enough to allow the length through, but should get stuck at the latch head. For this reason, insert it from the bottom so that the head is on the bottom of the pedal board.

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At this stage you probably want to connect up all your pedals with patch cables first, check that the cable ties are in the right spot, check that the pedals are spaced right before tightening up the ties.

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As you go, attach the daisy chain and the patch leads. Don’t tighten up the cable ties until you’re 100% happy. And even if you’re not 100% happy, it’s easy enough to replace them anyway! No velcro to peel off, no wear and tear on your pedals, leaving them pristine to sell on to the next musician.

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15. Non-slip Rubber Feet

Get a pack of these for a few dollars down at the hardware store. Just stick them on the bottom of the risers – even cover up your woodscrews like I did. And that’s it. Done, a homemade pedal board ready for you to shred out some masterful riffs.

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Best of luck!

Don’t forget to share this with fellow musicians when they ask about your pimping new board!

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David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest – Review

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David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest (or A Requiem Mass In C [The Happiest of All Keys])

A long drawn out title for an album, but considering this is said to be their last studio album, I guess they can call it what ever they want. It is a 2 disc set, with both discs complimenting each other.

The album builds on their previous two – Remedy and Church Music. It uses the techno funk sounds, but at the same time, reverts back to a very traditional type of hymn in terms of the music. Things like choral voices, organs, and repeated chants are all balanced features of the album. There is a real sense of reprise throughout the tracks, especially where 10 of the 34 songs are under 2 minutes in length, with 7 tracks simply called “Sequence” and a number.

Within all of these shorter tracks, there are some real hits. Not in the sense of the first time you hear them you’re blown away, but in the sense that they creep into your mind and are easy to pick up.  Tracks like the title track “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest”, and “After All (Holy)” are two of the anthem type songs. The second disc is a lot more complete, and also features some more traditional numbers, such as “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and “Because He Lives”, digging into their country roots to inspire them.

All in all, it is a very comprehensive collection of hymns and tunes. For me, none are hits like “Remedy”, “How He Loves”, “The Glory of it All”, but as an entire album, it is a definite artwork when you look at it with a wider angle.

★★★★☆  – 4 Stars

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iTunes: Get it to do what you want it to do.

So a while back now I was frustrated with iTunes. I was frustrated at it’s insistance to monopolise my music collection by organsing it for me, but without allowing me to choose just how it is organised.

For instance, when I first started collecting my music in mp3 format, I decided that I wanted my files named in quite a specific name. I decided on [Artist Folder] / [Artist -Album Folder] / tracknumber – artist – songtitle.mp3. This would allow me to keep the tracks in order in Explorer/Finder, and keep the albums separate so all that track 1’s didn’t get all mixed together etc.

Obviously, you can appreciate that I’ve found over the years, the best way to find anything you want on your computer, is to make sure you keep things organised in the same way regardless of what it is. Keeping all my music the same, organised in the same way is important to me. But, along came iTunes.

I still like to get the CD version of all my music. There’s something about having it in physical form that is for safe keeping I guess. So using iTunes, I have enjoyed importing my CD’s as they automatically get added to the library, it’s quick and easy, and it just works. But, whilst I can control the bit rate and the format that the CD is imported in, I can’t choose how the files are named. Likewise, Apple puts them into folders of just the album name, rather than allowing to choose how this is organised.

Until I found Doug.

Doug provides a range of scripts for one in particular Apple app. iTunes.

I immediately found what I was looking for.

File Renamer

File Renamer: http://dougscripts.com/074

File Renamer does just that. Renames your files, according to the ID3 Tags that the music files have. I set mine simply to “[track number] – [artist] – [title].mp3”. In it goes, renames the actual mp3 files, and tells you that it’s finished! All in about 3 seconds. Faster than I can do it manually!

Re-Locate Selected

Re-Locate Selected: http://dougscripts.com/477

Re-Locate Selected essentially moves the files to a new location of your choosing. iTunes by default tries to keep it all organised in your Music Folder, and then in iTunes Music, and then in their own folder structure within that. But if you try and move the files behind it’s back (not that iTunes allows you to move the files within iTunes anyway!), then it gets upset. As I keep my Music files on an external hard drive (so that it doesn’t clog up my laptop’s hard drive), this script has become very useful.
Creating a new folder and moving the files across to the External Hard drive in itself is not a difficult task. It is in fact, very easy. But, the problem then occurs when iTunes has now lost where those files are, and you then have to go through ALL of the tracks and click on “Locate” in order to re-direct the iTunes library files.

This script does away with all of that. Select the songs or album you want to move. You can choose to delete or to keep the original files (I usually choose to delete) and then it will allow you to choose the new location for it all, including the option to create New Folders in those locations. In about 10 seconds it is done, and the files are moved, and the iTunes Library references updated automatically. No more lost files when you move them outside of iTunes.

 

There are many, many more scripts that Doug has written. But for now, these two cover all the shortfalls that iTunes has. I hope you find them as useful as I have over the years.

 

How to install the scripts: (taken from dougscripts.com)

  1. Click the red download button. A .zip file will be downloaded to your “Downloads” folder.
    The .zip file should open a disk image (.dmg) file. Double-click the .dmg file to mount and display a disk image window in the Finder.
  2. Now, open a new Finder window and navigate to your[username]/Library/iTunes/Scripts/folder.
    (OS X 10.7+: Option-click the Finder’s Go menu and select “Library” to make the Library folder visible.)
    If there is no folder named “Scripts” there, create one.
  3. Select and drag the files from the disk image window into the “Scripts” folder. Scripts placed in this folder will appear in the iTunes Scripts menu.
  4. Close the disk image window and eject it from the Finder sidebar.

Note: This article was written at the time of release of iTunes 11.0 (Mac). These scripts currently work on versions 10.5 onwards, as well as 11.0. I’m sure that Doug will continue to update his scripts if they suddenly cease to work for future versions of iTunes.

Mandolin: Alpha

Last week I ordered my very first (and possibly last) Mandolin kit set. It is a SAGA Mandolin Kit AM-10.

I have begun on this weekend project in order to get me away from the drab boringness of Facebook and TV. So far, none of it has been done in the weekend – such is the blessing of school holidays!

I don’t want to make a “look as you go” blog, where photos pop up as I progress. Rather, I will post many of the photos at the end of the project as one blog article called “How to Build a Mandolin” (which may turn into a How NOT to build a Mandolin!).

Here are a couple, just to give you an idea of what I found inside the box.

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Studio Wall

I’ve finally decided to begin work on the mural for my studio. I wanted something classic, with a little bit of my own flavour. I knew I wanted that black and white rock portrait silhouette feel, and so I just had to come up with the musicians that have inspired me. Obviously Eric Clapton had to be one, as did Jimi Hendrix (although I didn’t want the black and white portrait that is always used for these things). BB King also made it to the list. I asked my brother (who is a drummer) for a drummer that inspired him, to be put in the drum corner. If there was one, Dave Weckl would be that drummer.

Here is the initial design for the wall.

Hillsong Live -- God Is Able

Hillsong Live – God is Able: Review


The first time I listened through the album I was a tad disappointed. Usually there’s a bit of a guarantee that there’ll be a hit song on a Hillsong album. But nothing stood out.

So I do what I usually do, and put the CD in my car. It’s now been in there for 3 weeks, and I can say there are some songs that slowly filter into your life through the subconscious. Within days, I found tunes singing in the shower and found myself wondering where they came from, only to find out they were on this CD.

All the songs seem to flow together, without being overtly seamless playback. Track 4 “The Lost are Found” hits home for me. It falls into a repetitiveness that captures the soul, without becoming tired. The words settle into the heart well, and are taken from verses in the bible. It also leads into the title track which has a forgettable riff, but immediately jogs your memory once it begins.

The other songs that stand out are track 9 and 10, “Narrow Road” and “My Heart is Overwhelmed” respectively. “Narrow Road”  really speaks about one of the first thing we need when we come to worship, and that is a humble heart. If we come to worship without a humble heart, we often miss the point.
“My Heart is Overwhelmed” is another song that just settles into the subconscious, but it has a Mumford and Son’s type feel that brings a different yet comfortable feel to corporate worship.

The true test of a worship song is their playability. If the song is impossibly tricky, it’s unlikely to get picked up by the worship team, and the congregation. Having picked up a few of the songs myself (without the aid of google.com!), it goes to show that these songs have a relatively simple base from which to work from.

I was, however, bitterly disappointed in the DVD. Usually you’d expect a CD/DVD set to have the audio version on the CD, with the DVD having all the songs performed live. Not so. Only 3 songs are on the DVD with some interviews with some of the songwriters.

★★★☆☆  – 3 Stars

Purchase Album

Haven Grove Studio

Haven Grove Studio

Welcome to Haven Grove Studio.

Haven Grove Studio

The studio was set up by Al Ingham, in the spare room of his house. It is a place where the music can be played, the worship lifted up, and begin to be captured to share with others.

The hunt has been on for a name for my music room – for the most part because I am sick of calling it “The Music Room”. So now, it is the “Studio” when I am at home, but for the rest of you, it is “Haven Grove Studio”.

You can now visit the Haven Grove Studio website at http://havengrovestudio.alingham.com

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Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More – Review

This won’t be the first review ever written for Mumford & Sons, and there’s probably countless other website more reputable for music reviews than this, but these are my four cents worth anyway.

Mumford & Sons definitely live up to their reputation. At the moment, they’re mostly known for their single “Little Lion Man” which appears on this album. But with time, they will continue to grow into common discussion on music.

Their songs fit into a folk & country feel, with strong guitar rhythm and pounding drums to create a drive that forces your foot to tap. There is an Irish/Celtic feel to a few of their songs which strikes straight to your soul. Apart from a couple of swear words in the chorus of “Little Lion Man”, the album really does encompass all listening preferences.

The cover design is adequately standard, but nothing to write home about.

This is definitely an album worth getting. I got it… and now all I can do is sigh in wonder at it all.

★★★★★ – 5 Stars

Purchase Album

Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – Review

This week I got Hugh Laurie’s new album “Let Them Talk”. Lets just say one thing.

Magical.

Having followed his masterful career in ‘House’ (which I’ve followed since Season 1), I have seen links to Laurie’s musical side, seeing a glorious Les Paul hanging on the wall in his apartment, and the occasional scene of House sitting by his grand piano. However, I half expected to hear the ‘House’ character with the gruff voice and slightly “Americanised” accent to be coming through the dullest tunes of New Orleans Blues.

There are quite a few tracks on this album, so you get value for money. They range from upbeat numbers, to mellow, laid back and gentle. The vocals are distinctly Laurie, and he’s supported with well mixed backing vocals. The range of sound is well catered for, from slide guitars, to saxophone, with the piano being the main feature. It’s not that this is a demonstration of raw talent, but rather a team collaboration which brings the overall sound up to a higher level.

From the first listen I loved it. I must admit, piano based songs are not my preference, but the mix is done so well, that other instruments aren’t dwarfed. There’s enough guitar based songs to keep me interested.

The only downfall to this album is the cover. Whilst the overall design of the cover is well weighted, the cardboard sleeve is unimaginative and flimsy. The CD just slides in, and if held on the side, could just slide out unprotected. It would struggle to hold its own in a standard CD rack. However, I love the fact that the disc is designed to look like a vinyl, which suits the whole feel of the album.

But lets face it, it’s the music on the disc that matter most, and it’s the music that cannot be faulted. I say let them talk… because all the talk will be nothing but praise for it.

★★★★☆ – 4 Stars

Purchase album

Hands

Each year on Good Friday I make a cross. It started whilst on the edge of Lake Rotoroa on a lonesome Easter Friday. It was 2001. I made myself a cross out of two branches, lashed together with rope.

Ever since, I have been making crosses. One year it was out of toothpicks scattered on my bed. Another a photo of the cross made from a window.

This year, I made a cross in a short video. I hope you enjoy it.